Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Europe Recap: Drive Lugano to Calabria

Continuing tradition, while we are on vacation this year, I'm sharing some photos and details from last year's trip. Last year, you got to see China while we were in Europe. This year, you get to see Europe while we are in India! 

Because we're two crazy cats, because we need to have a car when visiting family in Lamezia Terme, because we didn't have a set schedule, and because my husband likes to drive, on our trip, we actually drove all the way from Berlin to Lamezia in our rental car.  We turned it in at the airport in Lamezia when we left (we flew to Venice, then Amsterdam, then home). 

I think I was able to map our route fairly accurately, reflecting our stops in Munich, Fussen, Liechtenstein and Lugano:

It ended up being over 2250 kilometers, or over 1400 miles. 

Along the drive, as I shared in December, we ended up getting two speeding tickets that later came by mail.  That was the sucky part.  Oh, and the navigation.  Oh, and the traffic.  Oh, and the gas prices.  But the rest of it -- the control over our own schedule, the not dealing with airports, and the flexibility to make multiple stops -- was great. 

We sat in rush hour traffic in Milan, which was not awesome:

And I think we had some directional issues, like the rest of Europe, they tend to not post the direction of a road, the just post the destination (so if you were in Dallas, you might see signs for Houston, Shreveport, Amarillo and Oklahoma -- and it's up to you to know which direction each of those places is and which is along your route). 

We had lunch at an auto-stop along the highway.  For some reason, whenever I eat at one of these, I think about the DeKalb Travel Plaza outside of Chicago.  It's better known as the De Kalb Oasis.  I think we must have stopped there for meals a lot as a kid on road trips.

Anyway, this was DEFINITELY not the same.  Our lunches:

I had risotto as my primo and cheese as my secondo (kind of cheating there), plus green beans as a contorno.  What's sad is that the crap risotto made at essentially an Italian truck stop was at least as good as risotto you find in most restaurants here.  I shouldn't even call it crap risotto, it was totally delicious:

The view from our table, sitting directly over the highway, just like in De Kalb!

Along the drive toward Bologna, we saw the bridge that's famous to everyone in Dallas!  Here in Dallas, we have a new bridge that is very pretty (but somewhat useless in my opinion).  The Dallas bridge opened in 2012 and was expensive ($93MM) and doesn't really connect much.  The controversy arose because the bridge designer basically sold us a bridge he'd already built in Italy.  So our lovely design is not exactly original or unique. 

Sure enough, from the autostrada, you can see one of the nearly identical bridges in Emilia Romana, which opened in 2007: 

We also passed lovely Tuscan hill-top towns:

And enjoyed Italy's never-ending construction:

We were quite tempted to take an exit in Tuscany: 

And the drive had tons of tunnels, even a few with all lanes open and no construction!

More pretty Tuscany from the car:

Trains running alongside us at times:

Getting into Rome after dark and heading onward toward Napoli:

A hotel breakfast along the way, complete with blood orange juice and a chocolate croissant.  Honestly, I look at a picture like this and I don't know why I blame my husband's family for the weight I gained, I was clearly the architect of my own demise:

Heading toward Reggio!

Giant wind turbines:

Clouds among the mountains as we drove:

Fog in low-lying areas:

Appearing Calabrese towns:

Ah, finally into Lamezia, complete with graffiti:

And men lounging outside, with traffic stopped to talk to them...

It feels like home to me!

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